SukhothaiEarth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Thailand : Northern Thailand : Lower Northern Thailand : Sukhothai
Sukhothai (สุโขทัย) is a small city (population 35,713) in Lower Northern Thailand, and the Capital of the Province of this name, most famous for the ruins of the ancient city Sukhothai. The name translates as "the dawn of happiness". The province is located on the lower edge of the northern region, 427 kilometres north of Bangkok, and covers some 6,596 square kilometres.
The city is a popular tourist destination because it is located near the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai, which was the Thai capital during the 13th Century C.E. The historical Sukhothai was the first capital of Siam founded by King Ramkhamhaeng. The province's temples and monuments have been restored and Sukhothai Historical Park is an area with numerous sites of historical interest which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other interesting places include Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, Ramkhamhaeng National Park, Sri Satchanalai National Park, and The Royal Palace and Wat Mahathat.
Sukhothai was capital of the first kingdom of Siam established some 800 years ago. The exact year is unknown but according to the Fine Arts Office it was between 1238 and 1257.
Established in around 1238 to 1257, Sukhothai literally means “Dawn of Happiness.” Phokhun Si Intharathit was the founder of the Phra Ruang Dynasty, Sukhothai’s first dynasty. For 120 years as the capital of Siam, Sukhothai was ruled by many kings. In this connection, the most dynamic monarch being King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, who created the Thai alphabet, laid the foundation for politics, monarchy, and religion, as well as, expanded its boundary of influence. Though the golden era of Sukhothai no longer exists, tourists should bear in mind that respect and admiration for the renowned ruined twin cities of Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai is highly valued.
The best time of the year to see Sukhothai is from November to February when the weather is cooler. Other than that you can go any time of the year.
There is a shuttle from the airport to your resort (new city 180baht, or old city 300 baht).
Nok Air , a low cost carrier, operates a Flight + Van Service to Sukhotai. There are two daily flights to Phitsanulok Airport and then, a van to Sukhotai. The total package price is around 1500 baht (2hr 30 minutes). AirAsia also has service to/from Phitsanulok Airport linking DonMuang Airport in Bangkok.
Take the (express) train (7 hours from Bangkok or Chiang Mai) to Phitsanulok and go by bus from there (1 hour). After you arrive at Pitsanulok Railway Station, proceed to take a Tuk Tuk to the Pitsanulok Bus Terminal, which is located about 3KM from the railway station (80 Baht). Buses leave for Sukothai every hour and the 60KM journey is relatively comfortable. Upon arrival at the Sukothai Bus Terminal (which is located in New Sukothai Town), look for the sign “Bus to Old City” (30 Baht). The driver usually drops you close to your hotel if you have already know your accommodation. Whilst the train option is definitely more complex, it is definitely more exciting and entirely feasible.
Sukhothai only has a small bus station, but the city can be easily reached by buses from far and near.
From Phitsanulok: Frequent buses operate from the main bus terminal and take about 1 hour for the 58 km trip. Note: There is a taxi driver scammer who stands next to the bus ticket window clearly marked Sukhothai and tells you that you are at the wrong bus station and that buses to Sukhothai leave from Bus Station No 2 which he can take you to for a fee. Just ignore him and buy bus ticket from the window. After you reach Sukhothai Bus Terminal look around for a sign that reads “Bus to Old City”. As of June 2019, the price per person for the Old City Bus is 30THB and they are extremely frequent. The ride on the bus takes approximately 40 minutes. There are Tuk Tuk’s available too (about 200THB).
From Bangkok: There are direct buses from Bangkok Mo Chit Terminal which take 6-7 hours, including some stops at cities on the way. Understand that at the terminal (Mo Chit), there are several bus companies that offer travel to a given destination. In this instance, Wintour Travel, as of September 2013, charges 356 baht for a first-class air-con bus. The bus leaving Bangkok at 7:00am goes to the Sukhothai Old City and Historical Park. There is a bus returning to Bangkok starting at 8:20am from the Sukhothai Historical Park.
From Chiang Mai: Buses from Arcade bus terminal take about 4 hours. The cheaper local buses make several stops, including Lampang, and take about 5 hours. In this instance, Wintour, charges 231 baht for a second-class air-con bus. It takes 5.5 hours and arrives at a bus station 1.5 km away from (new) town center. It's also possible to stop in the old town. On the way back to Chiang Mai, if catching buses from old Sukhothai there might be some auto claimed "bus ticket-sellers" waiting at a bus stop sign near the entrance of Sukhothai historical Park (next to a bike shop). They will try to charge you 300 baht instead of 227 baht. They will state that you cannot buy a ticket directly on the bus or that you will have to stand if you don't buy their ticket. This is a scam, they obviously cannot book a seat for you. They just buy tickets beforehand and cheat tourists by selling them normal tickets at a higher price. They can also become really aggressive if you try to unveil their scheme. Just ignore them and wait for the bus to come, you can directly buy tickets on board. There's also seem like to be another bus stop in front of the 7/11 shop.
The purple #1 songthaew travels to and from the bus station, which is about 3 km out of town. They run the length of Charodwithitong Rd. The fare is 10 baht.
The large blue songthaew to Old Sukhothai leaves from a bus stop Charodwithitong Rd about 100 m west of the bridge. It stops about 750 m from the entrance to the central zone of the historic park. Fare: 20 baht. Drivers often ask 30 baht from foreigners, but if you insist or start to walk away they should agree for 20.
If you are arriving into New Sukhothai bus station there are Tuk Tuks which can take you to your hotel. There is a list of each one in English with a fixed price depending on the distance - a ride to Old Sukhothai will cost between 250-300 Baht (as of Feb 2017).
There are also tuk-tuks, which will try to get 600 baht out of you for a trip to the Old City (main ruins)some 15 km out of town. The correct price is about 300 baht,and this is for at least a couple of hours. When you have seen the part you are at and want to move further in the same area, the driver takes you there. In Feb 2012, Reports are that 600 baht is a fair price for a day.
- Old Sukhothai (Sukhothai Muang Kao). Located 12 km to the west of today's Sukhothai, this was the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom from 1238 to 1438 and contains many ruins from that period. Its importance has been internationally recognised and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The old city is a popular tourist attraction, and the site has seen much restoration since the 1960s. It is well-maintained, exceptionally clean, and well furnished with vendors, and only a few touts. The heavy restoration is worth noting, since with some ruins and Buddha figures it can lead to a feeling that it is a little over-sanitised, especially in the central zone. The other zones are much less "restored" and trips down unmarked tracks can lead to ruins in their untouched state.
The best way to see the ruins in the Sukhothai National Historic Park is by bicycle. These can be rented from a shop opposite from the main park entrance. It is feasible to walk around the central and northern zones in 6 hours or so. There is also a 40 baht guided tour by electric tram available.
The best time to see the ruins is mornings when it's a little cooler and before the buses arrive, at noon when they have lunch, or after 16:00.
The site covers an area of approximately 70 square kilometres (~27 square miles) and is divided into multiple zones. Every zone, of course, has an entrance fee. Admission to each of the zones is 100 baht for foreigners, and 20 baht for Thais. Extra for vehicles, including bicycles (10 baht). The combined ticket (still found in most travel guides) does not exist anymore. Before paying the fee, be sure to check all gates. Not every gate is always guarded, especially after 16:00. The central zone contains the majority of the ruins and a museum. Maps are free at the ticket office. Open from 06:00 to 18:00.
- Central zone - It contains 11 ruins in 3 square kilometres, interspersed with moats, lakes and bridges to some island-bound ruins. Wat Mahathat is one of the most spectacular, with a large seated Buddha figure set amongst the pillars of a now ruined sala, and a central chedi flanked by two standing Buddha figures. Wat Sra Sri also has a large chedi and Buddha figure, but is reached by a bridge to the island. There are some nice views from the other side of the lake.
- North zone - Wat Phra Phai Luang contains the remains of a number of buildings plus a large prang with stucco reliefs. More impressive is Wat Sri Chum, which contains a massive seated Buddha figure peering through an opening in its enclosure. Look for a stairway on the left as you enter the enclosure; it leads up and behind the Buddha image, though the passage is not always open.
- Ramkhamhaeng National Park - lies in Ban Dan Lan Hoi, Khiri Mat and Mueang Sukhothai districts of Sukhothai Province, the north of Thailand. The majority of the park's land is within the contours of the Khao Luang Mountain Range. This mountain range describes a north-south axis. Khao Luang is like a giant hill in the middle of a rice field, for it is surrounded by low farmland. The notable topography of this park are the four main peaks of the Khao Luang Range: Khao Phu Kha, Khao Phra Mae Ya, Khao Chedi, and Khao Pha Narai. The waters of the mountain range are essential to the agricultural lands below. These waters, Khlong Ta Chek, Khlong Sao Ho, Khlong Wang Ngen, Khlong Noen Khli, Khlong Duang Ngam, Khlong Lan Thong, Khlong Masang, and Khong Phetchahueng are also tributaries of the Yom River to the east and the Ping River in the west.
- Rent a bike and explore the ruins of Old Sukhothai (walking will kill you). Several rental shops. Price range: 10-50 baht per day.
- explore by tuktuk the old city of Sukhothai. Prajin (0845-777-189 with local sim card) is a friendly, honest and cheerful tuktuk driver, and he will guide you round, show you the secret animals and pathways and explain in good english about Thai culture. Especially Suitable on warm days. Price range - 300-500B for half day tour.
- Visit the park at sunrise and admire the Buddha figures in the orange glow of the morning sun.
- Pay a visit to the ruins at Sri Satchanalai Historic Park, 55 km from new Sukhothai. Few tourists, great sites, quiet. Bike rental at entrance.
- Walk around the fresh market in new Sukhothai in the early morning. Try the tastes of many kinds of local food Sukhothai people like to eat, e.g., sticky rice with deep fried pork, sweet deep fried beef or spicy pork salad wrapped in a banana leaf.
In Old Sukhothai there is a local market 50m next to the 7-11 just at the bus stand where buses to New Sukhothai head
- Rent a motorbike in new Sukhothai and appreciate the local life-style.
- Have "Sukhothai" Noodles!! - It's a must!
- Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary, .
- Bicycling on mountain-bikes with Sukhothai Bicycle Tour Besides guide trips to the Sukhothai Historical Park the also organize trips through the rice fields and accros some local farms. url="http://www.sukhothaibicycletour.com//" hours="" price=""></do>
In Sukhothai Historical Park
A Buddha figure at the market at the historical park. They are available in all historic styles, sizes and materials. It's forbidden to export Buddha figures from Thailand, even though it is commonly done.
In New Sukhothai
Thongchai Wittayu: The biggest electronic store in Sukhothai. The products are digital cameras, memory cards, MP3 players, etc. You could ask around when you are hanging out in new Sukhothai, most people know the store.
Big C Supermarket: If you stay longer and need some more variety then 7 eleven has to offer you can easily take the shuttle bus in the direction to old sukhothai. It will pass the Big C market. Just tell the driver "Big C". A ride cost 10 Baht per person. Be aware, that the busses just go every full hour.
- Chopper Bar, Pravetnakorn Rd. A rooftop restaurant and bar with good service, live acoustic guitar music, and Thai and Western menu. From 40 baht for main courses.
- Dream Café, located in downtown New Sukhothai in a charming rustic old Thai house, Dream Café serves up a good selection of Thai and Western dishes. Attentive service, eclectic music and charming décor. There is also a small guest house at the back. Chat with the owner Chabah if she's there, she is a genuine renaissance woman, Thai style. Mains from 120B 86/1 Singhawat Rd. Tel +66 55 612 801.
- Fueng Far, The restaurant that mainly serves for dinner. It could also be a drinking place which you can enjoy sipping beer by the Yom River. The food is called "fish food", for Sukhothai local fish (pla) dishes, especially spicy dishes. E.g., tom yom hua bla (fish head tom yum), look chin pla krai luak jim (pla krai—one type of fish, it's the pla krai fish ball boiled and dipped in spicy sauce), kob phat kra pao (stir fried basil frog). The restaurant is located by the Yom River, it takes 1 minute by motorbike from the beginning of the "Wat Ku Ha Suwan" Soi. It is not recommended you walk there because it is quite dark.
- Kru Eew, One of Sukhothai noodle restaurants in new Sukhothai. Serving not only Sukhothai noodles, but also Sukhothai-style pad Thai, Vietnamese food, desserts, etc. The restaurant is only opened in the day and mainly serves brunch and lunch.
- Poo and Kung Charodvithitong Rd. This is a Belgian-run restaurant offering Thai and Western food and a wide selection of cocktails. From 30 baht for main courses.
- Sukhothai Night Market, There are varieties of local food that you can find in the night market in new Sukhothai. The night market is called "To-rung", it also covers the area that the food stalls are along: "Rachathani" temple's fence.
- Local Market when crossing the bridge in center of New Sukhothai(when coming from Old Sukhothai) turn second right and you will get to local food market with a few local restaurants - meal about 30 B
- Bar64000, At the beginning of Pravet Nakorn Road (around 50m west of the bridge in New Sukhothai). Bar at the corner of Pravet Nakorn Rd/Charot Withi Thong Rd. Located just at the main road, traffic a little annoying, but at the evening there's not much traffic anyways. Large Chang, Cocktails from 80B
Budget in the New City
- Thai Guesthouse, 25/4 Rach-U-Thid Rd, ☎ 089-2627251. Located 1 block after TMB(Thai Military Bank)in market area. Look for sign "LAUNDRY" Free Wi-Fi. Just old house with shared bathroom. Concession rate applied for long-stayers. Handy access to market, banks, conves, net-cafe. Free to use utensils and hot water. Always-helpful-manager is also a certified Thai Massaer. Facebook: Thai Guesthouse - Sukhothai " 150-200 baht.
- 4T Guesthouse, 22/7 soi.Maeramphan T.Tanee A.Muang Sukhothai 64000, ☎ 055-614679 ([email protected]). Wonderful bungalow-style guesthouse with a pool, in a quiet setting set back from the road, but close to center of town. Great value considering the pool and has good restaurant, and friendly owners. 300-400 baht.
- Baan Thai, Pravetnakorn Rd. This is a typical guest-house, with a restaurant and a number of rooms available. Rooms contain a fan and share a bathroom, with hot water available. 300 baht.
- Gardenhouse, Pravetnakorn Road, ☎ +66 55 611 395, . A great selection of rooms and bungalows to suit the needs and taste of the budget traveller. Together with a great location in new Sukhothai and a diverse range of facilities and services, Garden House is a great choice for those looking for location and service without the cost. (N17° 00.477 E099° 48.986) 350 baht. (17.007955,99.816413)
- New City Guesthouse, (next to House Sabaidee. There are signs all way from the bus station to town.). Clean rooms with big bed, fan and private bathroom with hot shower at 180 baht per night. Run by a Thai- and English-speaking Japanese woman and her tuk-tuk driving Thai husband.
- Sila Resort, 3/49 M.1 Wat Khooha Suwan Rd, ☎ +66 55 620 344, . Very close to the bus station (2 min drive). Free pickup (go to Bus Station information booth and the girl will phone Sila Resort for pick up). On arrival a free map of Sukhothai and the Old City is provided along with all relevant information. They also provide free transport to the bus that goes to the Old City (8am-11am). Very welcoming and efficient young staff, willing to please. Rooms are nicely decorated, the bungalows are very nice too. Rooms have fan or air-con and shared or en suite bathroom. Also has restaurant. Free bicycles for the 5 min ride into town (be careful of dogs if riding at night). Bill is paid at end of visit (make sure you determine the room price at check in and keep track of your restaurant purchases). 230+ Baht.
- Le Sukhothai, ☎ +66 81 888 6378, . A nice place to stay, near the backpacker area behind 7-11. Clean rooms with free Wi-Fi There is a big difference between the rooms. Take some time to check and bargain the price. You also get two Singha water bottles (500ml) per day and dodgy bicycles to pick from the yard for free. Plus they run a nice homely restaurant with OK prices. The staff are friendly and attentive locals. 250 – 1,500 Baht.
- TR Guest House, ☎ +66 55 611 663, . Family-run guest house. Rooms with fans, and air conditioning, and bungalows with fan. All with private shower and toilet. Price includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike for rent. Some advice on touring the old and new city. Good for the price. (N17° 00.484 E099° 49.013) 300-600 baht. (17.008099,99.81689)
- Happy Guest House. Simple, uninspiring guest House a bit a way from the bussy main road. Staff is friendly but tries to sell. Bargain hard to get a reasonable price! Free wifi and computer access. Some travelers report that the owner wasn't clear about charges per night and they felt they were overcharged. 200 - 350 baht.
- MG Guesthouse, 295/16 Sirsamarung Rd, ☎ 055620707. A very nice and clean place. The bathroom is old fashioned, but ok. Showers have good pressure. Near 4T Guesthouse. When you cross by the market just look left and there will be a small sign saing "MG Guestouse". They have bamboo style Bungalow with A/C, fan, tv, fridge, a little paper map and a free bottle of water every day. The staff is nice and the english is good enough. You can walk here from the bus Station about 30 Minutes or take a Tuk Tuk. Should cost no more then 60 Baht. 350-400 baht per night.
Mid-range in the New City
- At Home Guest House, (In front of Sukhothai Guest House), . Very friendly staff, good information and free maps, very clean rooms with private bathrooms, 24 hour Wi-Fi in all rooms, small restaurant. Tuk-tuk price from bus station is 40 baht (day), 100 baht (night). Issara, the owner, organises great trips around Sukhothai. Wide selection of maps, guides, and travel info at your disposal. 450 to 650 baht for a double room.
- Lotus Village, 170 Ratchathanee St, ☎ +66 55 621 484, . A cozy boutique hotel in the heart of Sukhothai. All rooms are in Thai-style teak houses with verandas, surrounded by fish ponds, lotus flowers, and beautiful tropical gardens. The lobby is an excellent place to relax and read a large selection of magazines, books, and newspapers. Other services include local transport, travel bookings, cars with driver, and guides in French and English.
- Mountain View Guest House, 23/3 Moo 8, Maung Kao Maung, ☎ +66 55 601 111, . Guest house with 6 rooms with swimming pool. Includes breakfast. Owners very helpful and will take you to and from the historical park which is 4 km away. Wi-Fi. Bike, motorbike, chopper, and car rentals. Fan room, 600 baht; A/C, 850 baht; A/C Bungalows 1,000-1,300 baht.
- Ruean Thai Hotel, 181/20 Soi Pracharuammit Jarodwithithong Rd, ☎ +66 55 612 444 ([email protected], fax: +66 55 612 456), . A big Thai house with a nice swimming pool in the city. Just take a songthaew to reach the historical park. The hotel team is very helpful and will advise you properly.
- Hotel Sawasdipong, 56/2-5 Singhawat Rd, ☎ +66 55 611 567, . A 50 baht tuk-tuk ride from the bus station. Rooms have air-con, with TV and bar fridge. Has a restaurant, and there are others within walking distance including street stalls. 390 baht, room-only and 500 baht with breakfast for two.
- Sukhothai Guest House, 68 Wicheanchumnong Rd, ☎ +66 55 610 453, . A family guest house with clean rooms, beautiful decorated garden. Relax in front of the room with teak terrace, sharing new experience other travellers. The guest house offers a nice meal in the restaurant. Try the "Penang curry".
Budget in the Old City
- Old City Guest House. Nice guesthouse near the main entrance of the Historic Park. The cheaper rooms are a bit creepy and bed have bugs, but the others are big and nice. Plenty of decent restaurants very close by, and reasonably priced for breakfast or dinner. (N17° 01.145 E099° 42.461) Update April 2016: Fan, shared bathroom 250; Fan,bathroom inside 300; Fan,bathroom inside with warm water 350; AC,bathroom inside with warm water 500; AC,bathroom inside with warm water and fridge 700; AC,bathroom inside with warm water, fridge, one double bed and one single bed 900
Mid-range in the Old City
- Orchid Hibiscus Guest House, 407/2, Old City Sukhothai, ☎ +66 55 633 284. A small guest house with clean rooms, a swimming pool, and Italian/Thai owners. It is within biking distance to the old city, but there are only two restaurants in walking distance of the hotel. The owner is very helpful, but you are never quite sure if he understands your request. The pool, breakfast, and the garden make up for this. From 950 baht, 1500 baht for bungalow double or family.
- Thai Thai Sukhothai Guesthouse, 95/8 Moo 3 Old City Sukhothai (about 700 matres far from Sukhothai Historical Park), ☎ +66 84 932 1006, . Beautiful, bungalow-style guest house right behind the Orchid Hibiscus. Each bungalow is air conditioned and has a small terrace and garden view. You can rent a bicycle directly from reception (50 baht/day). The historical park, restaurant street and 7-11 are only a five minute ride away. Massage in your room possible. From 800 baht in low-season.
- Wake [email protected] Kao Boutique Hotel, 1/3 Moo 3 Old City Sukhothai (about 300 matres far from Sukhothai Historical Park), ☎ +66 83 4894047, . Beautiful, small family-run guest house near the Muan Kao market, local restaurants, and 7-11. There are self-serviced coffee, tea, cocoa, fruits, and sliced bread. From 800 baht in low-season.
Phone numbers in Wikitravel-Thailand are given with the international country code for Thailand (+66) and thus are useful for calling from outside the country. To dial this number, "+66 89 345 678" from within Thailand: 1) drop the "+66", 2) add a zero. 3) Result: dial "089 345 678".
In the Old City, there is a bus terminal about 500 metres up from the park on the main road. (Wintour Bus - Google Map code to search - “2P96+GV Mueang Kao, Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai, Thailand”)
Buses go to Chiang Mai 6 times daily, and to Bangkok 3 times daily.
- Chiang Mai — local bus takes 5.5-6 hours with 4 hours before an "official" toilet break at Lampang.
- Kamphaeng Phet — historic town
- Si Satchanalai — Sukhothai's twin city
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